In case you didn't know, Miami is off to a hot start in recruiting for 2016. Not even that, actually. We're off to THE BEST start in recruiting for 2016.
With 17 commits (ALL FROM FLORIDA, including 11 from South Florida), and 9 of them carrying 4-star ratings, the #Swag16 class has started to build a great foundation for what could end up being the Canes' best recruiting class in a decade. Here's what it looks like at this moment:
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Now, what do we need to do to keep these players committed and the recruiting momentum going? Here are my 5 things:
Kids want to play for winning teams. So, the best way to continue this momentum is win.
Don't think so? Remember this time last year when Brady Hoke and Michigan had a top 5 class and tons of recruiting momentum?
Of course you don't. Because they lost, and Hoke got fired, and everybody left that class. (Yeah, Harbaugh closed decently given the time he had, but that is a separate issue).
Yes, I put this twice. It's that important.
We REALLY need to win to keep this class together.
3. Reconnect with SoFLA HS programs
Former Hurricane CB and current American Heritage coach Mike Rumph mentioned in an interview recently that SEC teams had a recruiting presence at every single event at a school here in South Florida. Football games. Basketball games. Other open social events. If something is going on that a targeted player may attend, believe SEC schools have someone there.
Following the blueprint, Miami can do that and more. Miami should be at so many events it seems ludicrous. Every time a recruit turns around, they should see a Miami coach or staffer.
The U can have multiple staff members at every school, every week. And, with former HSFB coaches on staff like Ice Harris, Kevin Beard, and Jorge Baez, the connection to South Florida players should already be stronger. Now, we just have to have an outward presence to continue to build this class.
4. Don't wait until the last minute to offer talented SoFLA players
I don't know why, but this has become a favorite move with this coaching staff. Look at Rashad Fenton this cycle. He wanted to be a Cane throughout the majority of the process, but his offer didn't come until 2 days before National Signing Day.
There are plenty of other players who have similar stories. Skai Moore 2 years ago. Tarvarus McFadden and Torrance Gibson didn't get offered until they were well on their way to deciding their collegiate destination, and Miami was nowhere near able to get back into the picture with them. Treon Harris got offered super late. Ronnie Hoggins led Florida with 15 INTs this past season and never even got an offer. LB Sh'mar Kilby-Lane only got an offer after committing to FSU and never thought about flipping. LB Shawn Curtis was a great under-the-radar find by SoFLA recruiting lifer Larry Blustein, but he was never contacted by Miami and signed with Ole Miss. DT Edgar Cerenord is another player who Miami could have had, but didn't offer until too late in the game to really make a move. Oh, and let's not forget Isaiah McKenzie not getting offered either. You get the picture.
And, just because I like numbers, Miami gave out 250 scholarship offers in 2014, increased that to 316 scholarship offers in 2015, and has already given 178 for 2016 with 11+ months to go until the next National Signing Day. So, it doesn't stand to reason that the Canes would withhold offers from any talented and interested player since we've made a practice out of handing them out like candy on Halloween in the past few years.
You get the point by now, and hopefully this coaching staff does too. Stop waiting until the last minute to offer kids. You're not good enough recruiters to do that and pull it off.
5. Embrace a new recruiting paradigm
Old recruiting paradigm: get a couple commits, maybe even some top tier players; recruit nationally heavily; offer local kids late (which, as per point 4 DOES NOT WORK); fill recruiting class holes after NSD and with transfers.
New recruiting paradigm: lock down top talents (more than just the 4 RB's from last year) and work to keep them; shift recruiting focus HEAVILY to South Florida (yes, at the expense of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc); be more active in SoFLA community; target and select nationally, don't have it be foundation of the class; Oh, yeah, and WIN.
While these are similar, the tweaks in the 2nd strategy are, in my mind, ones that will help recruiting run at a higher level. Which should in turn put more talent on the roster. Which should in turn help us win more games. Which should in turn help recruiting run at a higher level.
And so on.
And so on.
Those are my keys to keeping this recruiting momentum for 2016. And, if we're lucky, Al and Co. will enact some of them. My preference would be #1. Or #2.